‘The past 7 days have been the worst of my financial life’

There’s always someone somewhere who is worse off than you.

Often, you can find them on Reddit. Some people are betting big on bitcoin, others are fretting over the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.64% and S&P 500 SPX, +0.61% Meanwhile, millions of Americans continue to lose their shirt the old-fashioned way.

This Reddit user, the appropriately named MaxedOut79, is 28-year-old independent contractor who earns $80,000 to $90,000 per year. He’s doing pretty well for a man of his years, given that he earns 50% more than the median U.S. household. And this week, it all went horribly wrong.

“Before this past week, I was only an occasional gambler,” he wrote. “I’d buy $5 to $10 in scratch off tickets every couple of months at convenience stores. Last week, I discovered online casinos. I wish I never had. I started off with a mere $100 deposit. Lost it. Then another $100. Lost it.”

Continue reading here.

Brooklyn man accused of selling drugs inside Cleveland’s Jack Casino

A Brooklyn man is accused of selling drugs inside Jack Casino in downtown Cleveland. Desmond Smith, 27, is charged with fourth-degree drug trafficking in the incident that was captured on casino surveillance at about 5 a.m. Friday, court and police records say.

His bond was set at $10,000 during his Monday arraignment at Cleveland Municipal Court, where his case was bound over to a Cuyahoga County grand jury. Smith’s next court appearance is slated for Friday.

Casino surveillance workers contacted a Cleveland police officer working secondary employment at Jack Casino after they saw Smith making a “hand-to-hand drug transaction” inside the building, according to a Cleveland police report.

Continue reading here.

Ohio awards $1M contract for marijuana help line

Ohio has issued a $1 million contract to a New Jersey company to operate a toll-free help line for medical marijuana patients, caregivers and physicians.

Cleveland.com reports the help line will be operated by Extra Step Assurance from a call center in Bellefontaine in central Ohio. The company is a subsidiary of Direct Success Inc., which has been operating a national marijuana help line there since February 2017.

The contract amount covers a three-year period.

Direct Success CEO Cheryl McDaniel says the hotline will give people information about medical marijuana so they can talk with doctors and decide whether the drug is right for them.

Ohio’s 2016 medical marijuana law required the establishment of a help line. The drug is scheduled to become available to patients in September.

Click here for the full article.

Is The Current Legal Blood Alcohol Limit Too High?

Ten-thousand Americans die in crashes blamed on alcohol each year.  That’s why a panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine just made a series of recommendations to stem that tide. They include ideas like higher alcohol taxes, better enforcement on underage drinking and dropping the legal blood alcohol limit from 0.08 to 0.05.

So, is the current legal limit too high? Good Question.

Every state, but Utah, has a 0.08 threshold. (Utah’s 0.05 law goes into effect December 2018.) That’s a change from just two decades ago, when the threshold for many states was .10. Minnesota was the last to make the switch to 0.08 in 2005.

“If you have a couple of drinks back to back in short order, you will raise your blood alcohol level to 0.08,” says HCMC Emergency Physician Dr. David Plummer. “It depends on the time between them and it depends on how rapidly it’s absorbed.”

How quickly people reaches a certain blood alcohol content also depends on size, weight, sex and how much they’ve eaten.

According to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, a 140-pound woman would reach a 0.10 BAC after three drinks and a 0.06 after two. A 180-pound man would reach a 0.06 after three drinks and a 0.08 after four.

Read the rest of the article here.

“Heat-not-burn” cigarette alternative faces scrutiny in the U.S.

A device that heats tobacco without burning it reduces some of the harmful chemicals in traditional cigarettes, but government scientists say it’s unclear if that translates into lower rates of disease for smokers who switch.

U.S. regulators published a mixed review Monday of the closely watched cigarette alternative from Philip Morris International. The company hopes to market the electronic device as the first “reduced-risk” tobacco product ever sanctioned by the U.S. government.

Philip Morris’ penlike device, called iQOS, is already sold in more than 30 countries, including Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom. But Philip Morris and its U.S. partner, Altria, need the permission of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to sell it in the U.S.

iQOS heats strips of Marlboro-branded tobacco but stops short of burning them, producing a tobacco vapor that includes nicotine. This is different from e-cigarettes, which don’t use tobacco at all but instead vaporize liquid usually containing nicotine. Nicotine is what makes cigarettes addictive.

Philip Morris believes its product is closer to the taste and experience of traditional cigarettes, making it more attractive to smokers and reducing their contact with tar and other toxic byproducts of burning cigarettes.

Company scientists will present their studies and marketing plan to a panel of FDA advisers this week. The panel’s recommendation, expected Thursday, is non-binding: the FDA will make the ultimate decision on the device later this year.

Read more here.

Alcohol and Cancer: What’s the Risk

Most Americans are aware that heavy drinking can cause health problems, but did you know that even small amounts of alcohol can raise the risk of getting cancer? AICR’s awareness survey found that only 39 percent of people connect alcohol with cancer risk. So what is the connection and how can you protect yourself?

The Research

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) now classifies alcohol as a Group 1 carcinogen (like tobacco). AICR research shows that alcohol can increase the risk of several types of cancer, including cancers of the breast, esophagus, liver, colorectum, stomach, mouth, pharynx and larynx. For breast, colorectal, oral and stomach cancers, the increased risk is seen at even low levels of regular drinking.

The evidence that all types of alcoholic drinks increase the risk of cancers has grown over the years. That list includes the more common wine and beer, as well as vodka and other hard liquors. The World Health Organization estimates that between 4 percent and 25 percent of cancers are attributable to alcohol worldwide.

Scientists are still researching how alcohol causes cancer. Ethanol, the alcohol found in drinks, is a recognized carcinogen that may lead to DNA damage. Alcohol could also reduce folate absorption or help potential carcinogens enter cells.

Continue reading here.

Alcohol labelling should tackle health ‘awareness vacuum’

The Royal Society for Public Health has said all alcoholic labelling should carry “mandatory warnings” to tackle the “awareness vacuum” among the public concerning alcohol and health – but is the public interested?

In a report conducted with The Portman Group, the RSPH said the public was still not aware enough of current drinking guidelines or the links between alcohol and diseases such as various cancers.

The RSPH proposed using traffic light colour coding – such as those used on other food items in the UK to indicate levels of fat, salt and sugar – and suggested other information such as the government’s 14 unit guideline, the link between alcohol and cancer and drink driving warnings.

Professor Shirley Cramer of the RSPH told the BBC that 90% of Britons were apparently unaware of the link between alcohol and cancer.*

She said alcohol “continues to lag behind” other items such as tobacco and soft drinks which now carry warnings on their packaging. “If we are to raise awareness and reduce alcohol harm, this must change.”

Continue reading here.

What too much alcohol can do you to your health

A lot of us drink. Too many of us drink a lot.
Worldwide, each person 15 years and older consumes 13.5 grams of pure alcohol per day, according to the World Health Organization. Considering that nearly half of the world doesn’t drink at all, that leaves the other half drinking up their share.
While the majority of the world drinks liquor, Americans prefer beer. The Beverage Marketing Corp. tracks these things: In 2017, Americans guzzled about 27 gallons of beer (or 216 pints), 2.6 gallons of wine and 2.2 gallons of spirits per drinking-age adult.
But Americans are lightweights in any worldwide drinking game, based on numbers from the World Health Organization. The Eastern European countries of Lithuania, Belarus, Czechia (the Czech Republic), Croatia and Bulgaria drink us under the table.
In fact, measuring liters drunk by anyone over 15, the US ranks 36th in the category of most sloshed nation; Austria comes in sixth; France is ninth (more wine) and Ireland 15th (yes, they drink more beer), while the UK ranks 18th.
Who drinks the least in the world? The Arab nations of the Middle East.

Mexico finds more fake tequila and why the US rarely faces this issue.

With Spring Break on the horizon it seems like a good time to talk about alcohol product safety. After numerous reports last year of tourists blacking out after drinking at high-end resorts in Mexico, more stories came to light about drownings, assaults, falls, and other injuries from tourists who drank even small or moderate amounts of alcohol.

This led the US Government to issue travel warnings and recommendations that travelers drink moderately, never go out alone, and seek medical attention if they begin to feel ill.

Following these reports and some pressure from US lawmakers, Mexican health authorities raided 31 resorts, restaurants and nightclubs and seized 10,000 gallons of illegal alcohol. At the end of February, Mexican authorities announced they found another black market tequila distillery and shut it down. Tests revealed that 235 gallons of the product contained dangerous levels of methanol, an extremely toxic substance.

A 2015 report by Euromonitor International found that about a quarter of alcohol consumed in Latin America is illicit, meaning it could have been manufactured without health and safety standards and could contain substances not approved for human consumption. Beyond the tragic human cost, counterfeit alcohol has enormous financial impact in the form of revenue lost by governments, and an uneven playing field among businesses.

Incidents like this remind us of the safety of the US system.
We have few problems with counterfeit and tainted alcohol because of our state-based, three-tier alcohol regulatory system. The Constitutional amendment that repealed Prohibition gave states the authority to regulate alcohol. Most adhere to an effective system that requires alcohol to be sold through three separate market tiers: manufacturers/suppliers, wholesalers and retailers.  This closed distribution system helps prevent adulterated and contaminated products from reaching consumers because alcohol is required to go from a licensed manufacturer to a licensed distributor to a licensed retailer.

The three-tier system also helps ensure consumer confidence in the alcohol industry. Even the best, licensed manufacturers can mistakenly produce a tainted batch or have an issue with packaging. In today’s market, minor problems with product quality can cripple a company or disrupt a commodity market. This is much less likely to happen in the US alcohol marketplace because licensed alcohol wholesalers must track every bottle and can. This minimizes harm and can save a business.

But we are gradually moving away from a closed system by granting small brewers, wineries and distillers the ability to “self-distribute.” Self-distribution involves selling out of a tasting or tap room, selling at festivals, direct shipment to customers, and direct selling to retailers (stores, restaurants, bars). All but 13 states allow this kind of distribution.

With all of these products skipping steps in the regulatory system, testing and tracking may be more difficult to monitor. According to their 2016 report, the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) only tested 450 products. Some companies and states do product testing, but it is not widely known which, and for what purpose.

In contrast, Ontario, Canada has an extensive testing program. In a 2016 presentation to the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association Board, Dorina Brasoveanu, Manager of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario’s Quality Assurance Laboratory, revealed that they tested 24,000 products from their 650 stores. They also have a complaint system which resulted in testing of spirit products that had a higher alcohol content than what was stated on the label. The products were quickly pulled and there were no known ill effects from consumers.

Because alcohol is primarily regulated at the state level, state regulators need to review their systems to determine whether the needs for adequate testing and tracking are being met. Some discussion with the federal TTB may also be warranted. Whenever states change laws, they should determine whether product safety will be impacted. Not only could tainted products harm consumers, but publicity about the products’ problems could hurt business. In addition, there are other enforcement and administrative costs in permitting alcohol products to flow outside of the three-tier system. Staff is needed to monitor the special privileges to ensure that the conditions are met, that taxes are collected and that product safety is ensured.

Meanwhile, members of the public may want to review the safeguards listed below, recommended by the UK which has recently adopted an aspect of our three-tier system.  They now require wholesalers to be registered and for retailers to only by from them, versus the “white van that rolls down the street”!

Mexican Authorities seize illicit alcohol in crackdown at resorts,Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Raquel Rutledge

Mexico police shut down second black market tequila operation, investigate if tainted alcohol headed to resorts, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Raquel Rutledge

Safe and Sound: How the three-tier alcohol regulatory system promotes safe products and high revenue collections, a short report by Pamela Erickson

The 4 Ps, UK Food Standards Agency

Public Action Management | PO Box 531726 | Henderson, NV 89053 503 / 936-0443



Alcohol & Cancer Connection: Rising Trend of Drinking Could Cause More Cancers in the U.S.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is sounding alarm bells over the high levels of alcohol consumption in the U.S. and the lack of awareness about its direct link to six different types of cancers. Throughout the month of February, AICR will be leading an urgent nationwide campaign focused on raising awareness of the link between alcohol, a Group one carcinogen, and cancer.

“Our awareness survey showed that fewer than four in 10 Americans realize that alcohol causes cancer. February is Cancer Prevention Month, and is the ideal time to raise awareness on this growing public health crisis,” said Deirdre McGinley-Gieser, Senior Vice President, Programs at AICR.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in six U.S. adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about eight drinks per binge. Binge drinking is defined as having four or more drinks on an occasion for women, or five or more drinks on an occasion for men.

“These staggering statistics on alcohol consumption need immediate attention. Raising individual awareness through effective public health messaging can be one important way to get the word out about the risk of alcohol and cancer,” says Alice Bender, AICR Director of Nutrition Programs.

Click here for the rest of the article.